Writing from the friendly skies between Austin and Seattle…
We’ve been getting a lot of rain in Austin lately, which is a huge blessing! I worked from home today and shortly before noon the skies let loose with some hail. Despite the risk of damage to cars, roofs, and whatever else, it’s always fun to have a hailstorm. This one was good. Most of the hail was about marble-sized but for about 30 seconds we got some that was nearly the size of golf balls. It was quite entertaining to watch the large ones sky off the trampoline.
Of course I got the camera out. I realize the scenery isn’t all that interesting but the hail is IMO. You can see hail from the sky (falling right-to-left), from the roof (left-to-right), and bouncing helter-skelter off the trampoline. Using ISO 100 and playing with shutter speed and aperture I attempted to capture streaks of hail stones as opposed to freezing them (no pun intended) in time. While it would’ve been fun to play with a flash and stop the motion, I needed to get back to the job which pays the bills.
One final note: This hail came down at about 11:30am-ish and when my daughter and I left the house at 3:40pm there was still ice in the yard despite the fact that (1) it was March and (2) it had rained all day. It was amazing how much ice came out of the sky.
Last Friday I walked past our kitchen window and was blinded by the light of the setting sun reflecting off the trampoline as my daughter was jumping. The backlighting also made for great highlights on my daughter’s nearly black hair (it’s that beautiful American Indian super-duper dark brown — and the brown really comes out when it’s backlit). I grabbed the camera and told her to keep jumping. I picked an exposure in manual mode and fired off 50 shots or so with the intention of posting something for #weareparents on google+. My son ended up in the g+ post (see here) last week so I decided to post the trampoline pics this week.
I wanted to include several “poses” in my image and set about to do that via clipping masks. I’ve played with clipping masks in the past — they’re easy — but I use them so infrequently that I always have to refresh my memory on how they work. I’ve posted some pictures below to illustrate a simple clipping mask. I started with a white background layer and a layer with a random image from my desktop (which happens to be a variation of HDR Tennis #18 which I modified via inverted curves to look rather nuclear:
Between those layers I inserted some text that said “Clipping Mask”:
My layers then look like this:
To use the text as a clipping mask, simply hold press option (alt on windows) and click on the line between the text and image layers. The result is this:
And the layers now appear like this:
One thing I love about Texas is the set of cool creatures you get to see without going to the zoo. This furry spider (a Texas brown tarantula as far as I can tell) was making his way across our backyard yesterday so I snapped a few shots. Processing involved basic curves, slight vignette, sharpening on the spider itself, and a 40%-ish blended layer processed in Topaz Adjust.
We’ve been getting a ton of rain this week thanks to the relative proximity of Hurricane Alex and the fact that we’re on the north side of it. I’m very glad for the rain, thanking God for it each time I look out the window, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more peeks of the sun.
In light of that (no pun intended) I decided to post this sunset image that I took sometime back. Nothing fancy — a picture of my son in our backyard as the sun heads to the horizon. I never get tired of seeing sunsets and am tempted to get the camera out for each one of them. It’s a run-of-the-mill 3-exposure HDR with some basic adjustments.
Speaking of rain, some of our family is headed to Seattle for a wedding next week. I’m reminded of the classic saying “I spent the summer in Seattle — both days were sunny”. I’m also reminded of a joke I heard sometime back that goes something like this:
A man moved to Seattle from sunny California and of course, it was raining. It rained the next day, and the next…and the next. After 7 or 8 straight days of rain he was wondering if it would ever stop. He asked a young boy passing by, “Does it ever stop raining here?!?”. To which the boy answered, “How should I know? I’m only six…”.